The media frequently feature stories about screening for or even ‘curing’ autism, presenting it as an affliction or disease. But people with autism can become excellent scientists and engineers or excel in art and music. This discussion event considered recent ideas about the minds of autistic people: how they think, learn and experience the world.
Kathy Sykes, Professor of Sciences and Society at the University of Bristol, chaired a discussion on creativity and the autistic mind with Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, artist and geologist, Jon Adams, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and Gabriel Hardistry-Miller, a non-verbal man with autism who, with artist Ben Connors, runs a music, performance and poetry club called Pig Pen. Together they will consider whether these so called ‘impairments’ should be thought of in a different way.
The ability to think in a 3-dimensional, multi-sensory way is a talent that dyslexic people share, but 2-dimensional symbols and words can cause them problems and confusion. In a humorous and thought-provoking performance, artist Benedict Phillips unleashes his dyslexic side as ‘The DIV’ highlighting and examining our presumptions about intelligence, communication and perception, unravelling the numerous misconceptions surrounding dyslexia and presenting the unusual advantages it brings. ‘Everyone can be Dislecksick; you just need to try harder’.
Jon Adams works in a variety of mediums, is a trained geologist and considers himself to to be an ‘Outsider Artist’. Adams has Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) and experiences synaesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary responses in a second sense, for example, ‘seeing sounds’. The artist’s work explores sense and sensitivity through the ‘hidden’ and plays with perceptions of normal and the inaccessible.
Funded by a Wellcome Trust People Award and Arts Council England